US accuses China of backing away from free-trade commitments
China has not adopted the rules of the World Trade Organization even after 20 years’ membership, the United States said yesterday, adding that the world’s second-biggest economy had “retained and expanded” its statist approach to the detriment of businesses and workers globally.
“China also has a long history of violating, disregarding and circumventing WTO rules to achieve its industrial policy objectives,” said an annual report to Congress by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai, laying out the Joe Biden administration’s assessment of China’s WTO membership.
“China has instead retained and expanded its state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade,” said Tai.
Among other things, the United States repeated longstanding accusations that China uses subsidies and regulations to favor its own companies at the expense of foreign competitors; floods world markets with cheap steel, aluminum and other products; and forces U.S. and other foreign companies to hand over prized technology as the price of access to Chinese markets.
Voicing similar complaints about China, former U.S. President Donald Trump slapped taxes on about $360 billion worth of Chinese imports to the United States - tariffs the Biden administration is still imposing.
To reduce tensions, the U.S. and China reached a so-called Phase 1 trade agreement in January 2020. Among other things, the Chinese agreed to step up purchases of U.S. farm exports.
But Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Trade calculated in a report last week that China has bought only 57 percent of U.S. exports it had to committed to purchase.
“China is an important trading partner, and every avenue for obtaining real change in its economic and trade regime must be utilized,” the USTR said.
Finally, it added that if China “fully” implemented the 2020 agreement, it would lay a more solid foundation for tackling the unresolved issues.